2:00PM Water Cooler 6/23/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. A view for the primaries:

Swing states AZ, FL, NC, PA, and WI, with NY for comparison.

Getting tested in AZ, a thread:

“No, more testing doesn’t explain the rise of covid-19 cases in the U.S.” [WaPo]. “It is true that the United States has dramatically expanded testing for the virus that causes covid-19…. Tests can also help tell us whether such measures are working. The way to tell whether a rise in cases is indicative of increased spread in the population — rather than a byproduct of conducting more tests — is by seeing how many tests are identifying infections…. The World Health Organization recommends that countries seeking to lift social distancing restrictions should be doing enough testing to maintain a test positivity of less than 5 percent. This target is based on the experience of countries that have driven their numbers of cases down and largely stopped viral spread. Many places, such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have been keeping their positivity much lower — at 2 percent or less. Such experiences show that very low positivity rates are an important benchmark to gauge progress against the pandemic.”

“Texas Children’s Hospital admitting adult patients to free up hospital beds in Houston” [KHOU]. “Texas Children’s Hospital confirmed late Monday it is admitting adult patients to free up hospital beds across Houston as coronavirus cases surge. In a statement sent to KHOU 11, Texas Children’s Hospital said it is providing additional capacity through ICU and acute care beds across its campuses to both pediatric and adult patients. On Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the health department is reporting some of the highest numbers the city has had since the start of the pandemic. ‘We are moving very fast and we are moving very fast in the wrong direction,’ said Turner. ‘The course that we are currently on is not in the best interest of our city or state.'” • Uh oh.

“Alarmed by spiking coronavirus numbers? Here’s why officials insist they aren’t worried” [Los Angeles Times]. “[R]ising case numbers have sparked some worry about whether the economy is reopening too quickly and that easing stay-at-home orders could cause new outbreaks. But health officials [in Los Angeles County] continue to discount those concerns, saying total new cases is not the best measure of community spread because of aggressive levels of new testing. They point to other metrics they say show that the local outbreak has stabilized — even though the number of new cases increased by nearly 20,000 in the last two weeks and by more than 3,600 just over the weekend…. Two key indicators — the positivity rate and average number of daily hospitalizations — have continued to remain relatively steady, while average daily deaths have declined, L.A. officials said.”

“What Does and Does Not Correlate with COVID-19 Death Rates” [NBER]. “We estimate correlation patterns both across states, as well as within states. For both models, we find higher shares of African American residents in the county are correlated with higher death rates. However, when we restrict ourselves to correlation patterns within a given state, the statistical significance of the correlation of death rates with the share of African Americans, while remaining positive, wanes. We find similar results for the share of elderly in the county…. Counties with higher home values, higher summer temperatures, and lower winter temperatures have higher death rates. Contrary to past work, we do not find a correlation between pollution and death rates. Also importantly, we do not find that death rates are correlated with obesity rates, ICU beds per capita, or poverty rates….. We find that death rates in the Northeast are substantially higher compared to other states, even when we control for the four sets of variables above. Death rates are also statistically significantly higher in Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, Indiana, and Colorado. California’s death rate is the lowest across all states.”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map. As of June 21: NPR and U.S. News forecasts added. And yet the consensus remains stable!

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass being vetted to be Biden running mate” [CBS]. “Congresswoman Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is undergoing vetting as a candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate… It is not immediately clear where Bass stands in the vetting process but her name has been floated for consideration by powerful Democrats like House Majority Whip James Clyburn.” • Interestingly, Bass supports #MedicareForAll. Why not Barbara Lee?

Biden (D)(2): “The Debate Over Biden’s VP Pick Is Full Of Half-Truths And Misleading Arguments” [FiveThirtyEight]. For example: “‘Though we have propped up the Democratic Party for decades, the return on our investment in the party might as well read, ‘insufficient funds,'” Rye and a group of other prominent Black women Democrats wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post in May, urging Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate. ‘Those days are over. We are here to collect,’ they continued. ‘Very simply, Vice President Biden: You owe us, you need us and you must not take our votes for granted — they must be earned.'” • “You owe us for Clinton and Biden” might not be the strongest case to make. In any case, Biden being in the shape he is, we’re also picking the next (presumptive) President too. Abrams 2024? Really?

Biden (D)(3): “Biden And His Ventriloquists Keep Out-Hawking Trump” [Caitlin Johnstone, Medium]. “Joe Biden keeps trying to out-warmonger Donald Trump, and by Joe Biden I of course mean the team of handlers who are animating the dementia-ravaged corpse of the Biden campaign like a ventriloquist operating a wooden dummy. In response to Trump suggesting an openness to scaling back his administration’s murderous Venezuela policy and meeting with President Nicolás Maduro, whoever runs Biden’s Twitter account for him seized upon the moment to assert that the former vice president will be doing no such thing if elected commander-in-chief.

‘Trump talks tough on Venezuela, but admires thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro,’ tweeted Biden Incorporated. ‘As President, I will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy.'” • Which should make the national security goons very happy.

Biden (D)(4): “Biden still has a Hispanic voter problem, but does it matter?” [The Hill]. “What is worrying, though, is Biden’s margins with Hispanic voters. He is currently at 57 percent support to Trump’s 31 percent, and has lost 9 points since the last survey. Clinton won 66 percent of Hispanic voters and Obama took 67 percent. If Biden is doing so well, why does he struggle with Hispanic voters?”

Sanders (D)(1): “The Second Defeat of Bernie Sanders” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “Throughout his career, Sanders has stood for the proposition that left-wing politics lost its way after the 1970s by letting what should be its central purpose — the class struggle, the rectification of economic inequality, the war against the “millionaires and billionaires” — be obscured by cultural battles and displaced by a pro-business, pro-Wall Street economic program. This shift has made left-of-center political parties (in Europe as well as the United States) steadily more upper middle class and conservatism steadily more blue collar, but the promise of Sandersism was that the transformation need not be permanent: A left that recovered the language of class struggle, that disentangled liberal politics from faculty-lounge elitism and neoliberal economics, could rally a silent majority against plutocracy and win. The 2016 Sanders primary campaign, which won white, working-class voters who had been drifting from the Democrats, seemed to vindicate this argument. The 2020 Sanders campaign, however, made it look more dubious, by illustrating the core challenge facing a socialist revolution: Its most passionate supporters — highly educated, economically disappointed urbanites — aren’t natural coalition partners for a Rust Belt populism, and the more they tugged Sanders toward the cultural left, the easier it was for Joe Biden to win blue-collar votes, leaving Sanders leading an ideological faction rather than a broader working-class insurgency. Now, under these strange coronavirus conditions, we’re watching a different sort of insurgency challenge or change liberalism, one founded on an intersectional vision of left-wing politics that never came naturally to Sanders. Rather than Medicare for All and taxing plutocrats, the rallying cry is racial justice and defunding the police. Instead of finding its nemeses in corporate suites, the intersectional revolution finds them on antique pedestals and atop the cultural establishment.” • Well, er.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Primaries renew fears about Democratic unity in presidential race” [The Hill]. “Some Democrats have begun pointing the finger at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), saying he’s been consumed with down-ballot elections at the expense of promoting Biden’s bid for the White House…. While they concede Sanders has done more to help Biden than he did in the 2016 race for then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, they still say Sanders needs to use his influence with his supporters to ensure they turn out and donate to Biden’s campaign… Sanders, who crushed his competitors in fundraising during the primary ‘could in one hour raise Biden north of $10 million, and the symbolism would be worth twice that,’ [Philippe Reines] said.” • Sheesh, Phiul. Ask Bloomberg! Anyhow, Sanders, 2016: “We are not a movement where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, because you won’t listen to me. You shouldn’t.” Translation: “If I tell you how to vote, they showed me the Zapruder film.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s ‘trench warfare’ reelection campaign begins” [Politico]. “After three months of little public activity, both candidates have launched their general campaigns in earnest. Their advisers have started making big ad buys. The outline of the swing state map has taken shape. And amid widespread civil unrest and an ongoing pandemic, the opening stage of what is likely to become one of the most bitter, intensely personal general election campaigns in contemporary history began to unfold…. ‘We’re playing offense, buying programs like daytime Fox News and NASCAR to get in front of a large volume of Obama/Trump voters,’ Patrick Bonsignore, Biden’s director of paid media, said in a memo describing the buy.'” • Holy Lord, the pearl-clutching that would ensue if Sanders did such a thing. Aren’t all those voters racist?

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Donald Trump finds sanctuary in Tulsa” [The Economist]. ” Part of the appeal of Trump rallies is that they are transgressive. The president always says something outrageous (this time it was ‘kung flu’). But to risk catching the virus in the name of Keeping America Great seems to have been too much for many would-be attendees and the arena, which can hold more than 19,000, was half empty.” • “Seems” is doing a lot of work there, because we don’t effing know, and we don’t effing know because there’s been no reporting on it. There’s been more reporting on the K-Pop fans than there was been on voters! More: “A lazy conclusion from this confluence of disasters is that the president has had an unusually terrible week. In fact the past week has been little different from any other since January 2017. Keeping America Great in November would mean signing up for another four years of the same. Given that, what’s remarkable is not how low the president’s chances of re-election appear to be, but how high.” •¨Yes, that would be an interesting story to write, too.

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “This Is How Trump Plans to Beat Biden” [The New Republic]. “Trump’s best opportunity to deepen these anxieties will arrive with Biden’s running mate⁠—a person voters will have no trouble imagining not only as an influence on Biden, but as someone who could conceivably replace him as president given his age. Reporting and comments from Democratic figures indicate it’s highly likely Biden will pick a woman of color whom the public doesn’t know terribly well. The ferocity of what awaits them has been foretold by the last 12 years of American politics. There is a risk for Trump that leaning too heavily into bigotry and piggishness on the right might further alienate the suburban voters he’s already hemorrhaging and finally shatter any meager hope he might have had of meaningfully improving his performance with Black voters. But the president is not a cautious or intelligent man. He will speak and act mostly by instinct, as he usually does⁠—trusting that the inequities of our sham democracy will allow him to feel and fumble his way back into office. And he might be right.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Pollster Who Got It Right in 2016: Michigan a Dead Heat” [RealClearPolitics]. “In 2016, Robert Cahaly was the only pollster to show Donald Trump winning the state of Michigan…. Cahaly’s polls in 2016 also showed Donald Trump winning Pennsylvania – again, he was nearly alone in projecting Trump’s narrow victory there – and thus taking the White House. Cahaly’s success continued in 2018, most conspicuously in Florida… Cahaly’s survey, using the same methodology he employed four years ago but with an enhanced system for targeting likely voters, shows the race in Michigan as extremely competitive. The pollster also continues to see signs of ‘shy’ or ‘reluctant’ Trump voters in the electorate. Known as ‘social desirability bias,’ it refers to the effect of respondents not telling the truth about whom they will vote for because they think their choice will be viewed unfavorably by others, including those conducting the survey. In a phone interview today, Cahaly said the social desirability bias he is seeing is ‘worse than it was four years ago.’ Cahaly also pointed out, social desirability notwithstanding, African American support for Trump in the survey registered 11.8%, which would represent a significant increase over four years ago. According to the 2016 exit polls, Trump won just 6% of African American voters in Michigan.” • Big if true.

* * *

“9 things to watch on a huge primary day for Democrats” [Politico]. Kentucky specifically: “The race has increasingly come down to Booker’s momentum versus McGrath’s structural advantages. Her campaign has been on the airwaves for months funding biography spots and general election ads against McConnell, and her campaign’s cash has also allowed them to build the infrastructure to turn out her voters across the state, relying on Kentucky’s more conservative Democrats outside the population centers in Louisville and Lexington.” And: “In the contested primaries in New York City and Kentucky, it is unlikely that a winner will be declared tonight, unless the races are an absolute blowout.”

Health Care

Neera Tander throws in the towel on ObamaCare:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Activists cite tabulation flaw in mail-in ballots in Georgia” [The Ledger]. “Faulty software or poorly calibrated vote-tabulation scanners used to count mailed-in ballots in this week’s chaotic Georgia primary may have prevented thousands of votes from being counted, election officials and voting integrity activists say. The issue was identified in at least four counties, DeKalb, Morgan, Clarke and Cherokee, according to officials who discovered them, including activists who have sued the state for alleged election mismanagement. ‘The fact that it is in multiple counties tells me that it’s probably systemic,’ said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist who has testified for the plaintiffs, because identical scanners and software were used to count all absentee ballots across the state. DeMillo said the only way to know for sure is through audits.” • Vote-by-mail is only as good as tabulation. While Georgia is a Republican state, there is no reason whatever to think that the problem is limited them; see how votes are tabulated in a Democrat stronghold, California, at CalPERS, for example, here, here, and here.

UPDATE “States failed to get absentee ballots to thousands of voters in recent primary elections, signaling problems for November” [CNN]. “[T]housands of voters who didn’t get their requested absentee ballots in recent primaries, including in the battleground states of Georgia and Wisconsin. In Maryland, where all registered voters were automatically supposed to get ballots in the mail, about 160,000 ballots, roughly 5% of those sent out, weren’t delivered, officials say. With five months to go before the November election, when an unprecedented number of voters will likely cast mail-in ballots, some glaring trouble spots are beginning to emerge. States’ rush to expand absentee voting ahead of primaries this spring exposed logistical issues that, if not addressed, could lead to much bigger problems on Election Day. This isn’t the ‘massive fraud’ that President Donald Trump falsely claims is happening — a distortion he reiterated on Monday morning in an all-caps tweet. To the contrary, the frenzied rollout of mail-in voting has likely led to more eligible voters getting disenfranchised than voters fraudulently casting multiple ballots, according to a new CNN review of data from a half-dozen recent primaries.” • So that’s alright, then.

* * *

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Manufacturing: “June 2020 Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Improves” [Econintersect]. “Of the three regional Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys released to date, one is in expansion, one is in contraction, and one is in the neutral zone. The important Richmond Fed subcategories (new orders and unfilled orders) improved. This survey was better than last month.”

Housing: “May 2020 Headline New Home Sales Remain Strong” [Econintersect]. “This month the backward revisions were down. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages improved. Sales again remained strong this month demonstrating the resilience of the new home market.”

* * *

Saving: “Americans Will Soon Need Extra Money They Saved in Lockdown” [Bloomberg]. “Savings rates soared to an unprecedented one-third of disposable income during the pandemic lockdown. Still-employed Americans found there weren’t many places to spend their paychecks, and expanded government benefits helped paper over the financial cracks for the tens of millions who lost their jobs. Some 37% of adults told the Federal Reserve last year that they didn’t have enough cash to handle an unexpected expense of $400. That’s down from about 50% in 2013, as households bolstered their savings during the long U.S. expansion. Still, it raises the question: if almost 2 in 5 Americans can’t handle a surprise car-repair bill, how will they cope in a drawn-out downturn? Hardly any economist expects the U.S. to return to 2019 levels of employment in the foreseeable future…. It’s not just the poor who are vulnerable, data suggest. Even well-off middle-class families may struggle to come up with the cash to endure an economic drought of more than a couple months –- because they tend to hold savings in assets that are difficult and costly to access in an emergency.” • Hmm.

Shipping: “Market watch: Air cargo frenzy dies down” [MarketWatch]. “The white-knuckle ride through the airfreight market stratosphere has ended as prices continued to fall back toward earth again last week, bringing relief to companies that purchase air transport to move their goods. The change in conditions is best illustrated by export flows from China to the U.S. and Europe, where air rates have tumbled more than 60%, from $15 to $20 per kilogram at one point, to under $10 per kilogram, as panic-buying for personal protective equipment (PPE) gives way to pre-planned ordering and supply chains shifting to accommodate other types of products. Third-party logistics providers say the situation reflects waning demand for hospital supplies to combat the coronavirus as inventories have built to the point that importers can convert shipments to less expensive ocean transport, with some supplies also moving to Europe via rail. Also contributing to a more stable delivery tempo is the fact that established freight management intermediaries have weeded out first-time shippers who capitalized on the urgent need for protective gear but clogged the system because they didn’t understand best practices for sourcing and customs compliance.”

Shipping: “Cruise Industry Extends Pause from U.S. Ports” [Maritime Executive]. “Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the trade association for the cruise industry, announced that its ocean-going cruise line members will voluntarily extend the suspension of cruise operations from U.S. ports until September 15, 2020. The surprise announcement came as some of the international cruise lines prepared to resume operations and the North American lines were beginning to announce new health protocols. Industry observers, however, had noted that pressure was likely rising on the cruise industry due to the recent spike in reported COVID-19 cases in Florida, the headquarters for the cruise industry, and home port to many of the cruise ships that were expected to resume service.”

Manufacturing: “How the L.A. apparel industry became mask makers” [Los Angeles Times]. “After hearing of the critical shortage of face masks, [Abdul Rashid] Dadabhoy [of AST Sportswear, one of the nation’s biggest makers of T-shirts] sat down with his three brothers the next morning and prototyped a cotton version, which workers at the company’s vertically integrated Brea factory churned out 1,200 pieces of the next day. The company has made more than 10 million masks since…. While other sectors remained closed for months, Southern California’s apparel manufacturers, which employ thousands, turned on a dime to produce masks and other critically needed personal protective equipment. This nimbleness allowed local businesses to compete with low-cost overseas suppliers, but it also exposed employees to possible infection and reignited allegations that its low-income, largely immigrant workforce was being exploited.”

Manufacturing: “Pandemic Brings Highs and Lows to Region’s Fireworks Companies” [Business Journal]. “Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks is a retailer that sells consumer-grade fireworks at its 84 stores and 1,200 temporary stands across the country, not to mention in hundreds of chain stores in certain states. Its sales always reach a crescendo as the Fourth of July nears but it’s on a record pace this year. A populace that has been urged to stay at home is eager to buy up firecrackers, fountains and bottle rockets. ‘The numbers we’re seeing so far, if translated to the rest of the season, will blow away any year,’ said Alan Zoldan, executive vice president of Phantom. Meanwhile, pyrotechnics companies that stage massive public fireworks displays at festivals and for the Fourth of July are among the hardest hit by pandemic-related cancellations.”

The Bezzle: “Wirecard’s Former CEO Markus Braun Arrested” [PYMNTS.COM]. “Braun surrendered to Munich prosecutors after a judge issued a warrant as prosecutors investigate an accounting scandal that centers on a missing 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday. The 50-year-old executive faces charges of accounting fraud and market manipulation designed to artificially inflate the financial technology company’s balance sheet to make it look more appealing to investors and customers, the Financial Times reported…. Until his resignation Friday (June 19), when an audit revealed 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) were missing from two bank accounts in the Philippines, Braun had been at the top of the FinTech company since 2002.”

Pandemic: “Prospering in the pandemic: the top 100 companies” [Financial Times]. “In a dismal year for most companies, a minority have shone: pharmaceutical groups boosted by their hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine; technology giants buoyed by the trend for working from home; and retailers offering lockdown necessities online.” • Handy chart: “Companies with net market cap gain of more than $1bn in 2020, by sector. Circle size shows market cap added YTD*, top 100 highlighted, top 25 labelled”:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 22 at 11:57am.

The Biosphere

“The Himalaya should be a nature reserve” [Nature]. “The Himalaya, which straddles seven nations, already has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation as a result of logging, agricultural expansion, a burgeoning human population, and the building of dams and other infrastructure. It is also thought to be the most rapidly warming mountain range on Earth. Alongside the animal species, Himalayan alpine meadows boast a wealth of herbaceous flowering plants — strange, colourful and delicate — often with medicinal properties. Nowhere else are so many native plant species found at such high elevations…. Here is my idealistic aim for this region. Alongside other multilateral strategies, the mountain range, or at least those areas between 2,600 and 4,600 metres high — whose famous inhabitants include the snow leopard and its prey, the Himalayan blue sheep — should be designated a nature reserve. I propose calling it the Himalaya-one-Nature-one-Reserve, or HONOR. It would ideally encompass much of the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot in the Eastern and Western Himalaya, about 740,000 square kilometres. My dream is not as far-fetched as it sounds. In Antarctica, the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area covers more than 1.5 million square kilometres under a 25-nation agreement. The largest land-based protected area, Northeast Greenland National Park, is 972,000 square kilometres.”

Health Care

“Coronavirus research updates: A striking share of infected people never show classic symptoms” [Nature]. “Less than one-third of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 fell ill with respiratory symptoms or fever, according to a survey of thousands of people in Italy…. Roughly half of these 5,484 contacts became infected themselves (P. Poletti et al. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.08471; 2020). Of those, 31% developed respiratory symptoms — such as a cough — or a fever; only 26% of those under the age of 60 did so.” • Not peer-reviewed!

“FDA warns against 9 hand sanitizers after dangerous chemical discovered” [The Hill]. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning against the use of nine hand sanitizers produced by a Mexico-based manufacturer due to the potential presence of a toxic substance. The FDA said methanol, which can be dangerous when absorbed through the skin or ingested, was identified in nine different hand sanitizers produced by Eskbiochem SA.” • List of products at the link, with National Drug Code (NDC) codes.

Sports Desk

“College football on the brink: Push to play undercut by virus outbreaks” [Politico]. “Across the country, college athletic programs are under financial and political pressure to return to the fields, but these efforts come amid safety warnings from public health officials and continued uncertainty about how the academic side of colleges will get back to business this fall…. Health experts are urging administrators to craft intricate campus safety plans, while college towns rely on the economic activity generated by fall Saturdays. How colleges proceed will send a message about the influence of athletics — and the cash produced by big-time programs — in higher education.”

Class Warfare

“Jane McAlevey’s Vision for the Future of American Labor” [The New Yorker]. “Whereas previous generations of teachers’ unions wrought power by sending a negotiating team into a closed room, the new teacher unionism turned power inside out by seeking to build high-participation, high-action unions. It was radical in the most etymological sense: it returned to the root elements of unions—organizing people, forging solidarity, leading strikes. These teachers’ groups were hardly the first unions committed to building democratic, high-participation labor movements. This strategy was fundamental to the labor organizing of the nineteen-thirties, led by the Congress of Industrial Organizations. It was also a tradition within civil-rights movements, pioneered by leaders such as Ella Baker, who referred to organizing as ‘the spadework’ of movements—the tending necessary for growth. But it has been teachers’ unions in recent years that have brought it to life.”

“Wokeness Defined” [Good Ol Boyz Podcast]. “There is a reason that intersectionality speaks so much of colonialism- colonialism taught them everything…. Now, this is outright blasphemy. How can I compare this thing to colonialism? This is outrageous, intersectionality is synonymous with anti-colonialism. This may shock you, but intersectionality has no central component of black struggle, slavery, feminism, whatever. It is irrelevant. What matters is maintaining small coalitions, and keeping them fighting for crumbs….. Create identities, attack them, keep the heat up, and the megarich never have to worry about the commonality again. It’s easy for the elite political class, the woke, to arrange ideal (for them) political coalitions when you can move people around a chessboard by what you look like. It’s not that people don’t want universal health care and less imperialism, it’s just hard to compete with the immediacy of hate, violence, and quotas. Schmitt said that politics was nothing more than the relationship between friend and enemy- here they hold a reliable method for defining these categories.” • Seems to have exactly one post…

News of the Wired

“What the world needs now: lessons from a poker player” [Nature]. “As someone who has read almost every piece of literature on poker, I can say that The Biggest Bluff is the best depiction yet of the game I love, and the invaluable thinking skills it teaches. This is not a book that will teach you how to play your Ace–Queen out of position against a laggy villain (although it will teach you what that means). But it will show you how to play the game of life more effectively. Konnikova’s is an uplifting zero-to-hero journey that will raise a smile in these trying times.” • Hmm. A review of a book on risk that mentions von Neumann but doesn’t mention Taleb?

“Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn & Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer, 2002, For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) Dvd, Part Two” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] • I missed this in 2003. Dang.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (KS):

KS writes: “Just some clematis shots from the yard. Nice show!”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. JohnnyGL


    For those who were interested in the Nathan Robinson attack/debate on the show ‘Rising’ with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti.

    It’s ridiculous that someone like Robinson can’t see the value in a voice like Enjeti’s getting the upper-hand among thought-leaders in the Republican party.

    Margaret Thatcher once answered a question about her legacy by pointing to Tony Blair. Her point was that changing what your opponents say/do is a real representation of lasting influence.

    The left could learn a lot from the idea of looking to influence and the shape/form of its opponents instead of simply declaring them ‘cancelled’ or ‘beyond the pale’ and shunning those voices in polite company.

    For most of us lefties who live in the real world, populist-style conservatives like Enjeti are a lot more commonplace in American society than those like John Bolton or Rick Wilson. I can tell you that members of my extended family (who are generally conservative) would find his brand of conservatism much more appealing than the Bush II style of tax-cutting and warmongering.

    1. WillyBgood

      Sagar was even fair to Howie Hawkins in their interview of him. For anyone who doesn’t know who Howie is I recommend the interview with Krystal and Sagar.

      1. km

        Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that until fairly recently, Howie Hawkins was all in on the russiagate conspiracy theory.

        He seems to have restrained his enthusiasm of late, however.

    1. jo6pac

      I think that makes her the perfect VP pick. It’s not like biden is some sort of lefty.

      1. Seth Miller

        Even more perfect is that you can’t really know whether she honestly likes that crazy demonic nihilistic Ayn Rand bullfertilizer, or is just signaling to donors that she does.

    2. anon in so cal

      Worse yet: would Victoria Nuland be given a role in a Biden administration? Somehow I missed her recent anti-Russia, anti-Putin screed in Foreign Affairs. Nuland calls for a more “activist” U.S. policy toward Russia.

      “According to Nuland, President Vladimir Putin has “cut off his population from the outside world” and the US needs to “speak directly to the Russian people about the benefits of working together and the price they have paid for Putin’s hard turn away from liberalism.”


      1. jo6pac

        I don’t see why not and why not bring Sue Rice for good measure. The hillabillie team rides again.

        Hell maybe Condi Rice also;-) It sad to think this could even happen.

  2. JohnnyGL

    Oh wow….the Chomsky and Zinn commentary on Fellowship of the Ring…that’s really laugh out loud funny.

    1. Detroit Dan

      Yeah, thanks for pointing that out JohnnyGL!

      Zinn: But here the Elvish culture is revealed to be very elaborate, because, of course, they have better architecture. But I vastly prefer the real grittiness one finds in Mordor. Think of the suspiciously clean city of Rivendell. You don’t see any life going on there. No people at all. There’s hardly anyone in the streets. It should be said, though, that, on occasion, the Orcs have been known to eat one another.

      Chomsky: That’s cannibalism, sure, but maybe it’s part of a sacred ritual with them. Maybe it’s an ancient part of their culture. Who are we to judge? Still, I have problems with it, I agree.

      1. Richard Haan

        I recommend The Last Ringbearer, written 20 years, for more insights to Elven culture and why Mordor is such a dump.

        I want to say it was recommended to me in NC/WC lo these many years ago, but I’m not sure.

        1. Alternate Delegate

          Hey, that’s surprisingly good. That Zinn/Chomsky dialog might be inspired by the older work.

    2. dougie

      Reading that piece was what Al Gore created the Internet for! I am so glad to have had my eyes opened, regarding the Orcs, and those nasty Elves. Are there any Elf statues that we need to tear down?

    3. BobW

      Reading Zinn & Chomsky was like coming out of a deep sleep into full awareness. Perhaps someone could coin a term of art that describes this state of mind. Arisen? No, that has religious connotations. Aroused? No, too sexual. I guess there is no word.

    4. richard

      this is quite hilarious
      I like when gandalf pulls a reichstag to break up the budding orc/dwarf alliance

  3. jo6pac

    Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass being vetted to be Biden running mate

    If she a progressive in that she wants Medi-Care for All she won’t make the cut unless she sells out. bidens group is doing this just to keep some progressive happy.

    1. L

      As much as it pains me to say it I suspect that is correct. This would not be the first time a campaign made a show of trying out potential picks to keep people in the fold only to go where they were always going to go anyway. The longer this goes on the more Biden’s VP choice seems like a beauty pageant carefully tailored to show his woke credentials, before the crass choice is made.

      1. Billy

        Only way Biden wins is if he runs with a young(er) white man.

        Stomp your feet and scream, but that’s the facts of American politics.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Biden’s campaign team has really allowed themselves to be painted into an untenable corner on the running mate question. There’s no win to be had.

      Almost the entire list is political non-entities: a failed gubernatorial candidate, two members of the House (one a cop). The only statewide elected official Biden could choose is a hugely unpopular former prosecutor who is way out of her element in electoral politics.

      Why not Anita Hill, at this point?

      1. Screwball

        How do we know this is Biden’s pick and not coming from the DNC? After all, he might not make 4 years.

        I expect, as I have for a long time – Harris.

        Arguably, the most awful ticket in the history of the world (on the D side).

        1. Big River Bandido

          That’s why I said “Biden’s campaign team”. Quite sure Dopey Joe doesn’t have anything to do with anything these days, but certainly not decisions. But even if this were Joe’s pick, it wouldn’t really matter…since the get-go, he and his campaign have been behind the curve on every conceivable issue that the voters care about. They’re still scrambling incoherent (kinda like their candidate’s brain) — and at this point they can’t blame their late start. Harris is, of course, the candidate I referred to, and I agree that this is a most awful ticket — and that’s just on paper, before you actually see these people speak and campaign.

          But I don’t worry too much about it. A good campaign can sometimes drag a bad candidate across the finish line, but I don’t see anything here that will save the Democrats. I haven’t seen such incompetence since the Mondale and Dukakis campaigns. These people are not serious, and they are not ready or equipped for power, and it shows.

          1. Grant

            Biden’s only real reason for running was to beat Bernie. He did that. I don’t think he expected to be in this position, he has done nothing to earn it and will make very few actual decisions as president. I think it is fitting, when the country is crumbling and facing an environmental crisis, to have an election from hell; Biden vs. Trump. It cannot be worse, and this was a pivotal election to move the country in a different direction. I now think we are similar to the position Yugoslavia was in about the late 1980’s. These people have never been serious on policy though. Their only talents seem to be raking in bribes, selling the store to donors, kneecapping the left and lying to voters. Since most of these corrupt, worthless people continue to support disastrous and unpopular policies, all they have left is to get better at lying and to create good propaganda. They have nothing to offer on policy, the country knows it, and that is why a large share of the public has checked out and doesn’t even bother voting. Those around Biden don’t care, it is all just about access to power. That sure as hell isn’t going to get better with over a decade of Biden/Harris having power. I don’t think we have tons more time before the whole thing just implodes. There are policies we can do to make things better, but the system as is won’t allow it, and Biden was elected to change nothing. He really offered nothing more than that. I will beat Trump because I will change nothing, and many (largely older) Democrats went with it.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        When you consider the combination of the moral bankruptcy of “centrism” and the natural state of nepotism and organizational rot, you have to look at the actual condition of these people.

        When you review the “centrists”, the best they can hope for is a blank slate similar to Obama. Klobuchar’s record of abusing the powerless both as a prosecutor and boss certainly hurt her. As a generic Democratic Senator, she has the intellect and charisma not to obviously remind people Biden is a dolt. Given the security and lack of turnover, they built records.

        Centrism won’t attract the decent and talented and even the talented who aren’t decent will be wary as nepotism blocks paths to advancement. Can anyone realistically say Andy Cuomo was the best New York has to offer?

        Pete Buttigieg is really the best “centrists” have to offer at the end of the day. Biden didn’t put himself in a corner as much as the people he would pick form are ultimately disasters. We are a far cry from say a time when there was an argument for “deregulation” or “restructuring bureacracies.” People still attached to these kinds of ideas are well…not exactly the best and brightest.

        1. Big River Bandido

          I was referring to the commitment to nominate a black woman. That is what painted the campaign and candidate into a corner. A nominee who allows himself to be so dictated to conjures up images of McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis, who were easily pushed around in the exact same ways, and who were managed by people similarly out of their depth in presidential politics. There’s no upside at all to this for Biden.

          1. YetAnotherChris

            I think you’re exactly right. It’s not misogyny to point out that the Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro ticket in 1984 lost 49 states. Voters just didn’t find Fritz a compelling alternative to Reagan. Biden could have named Tammy Baldwin two months ago, but now he has to honor the “woman of color” pledge or backpedal on it. No upside, as you say.

    3. Keith

      I think at this point, they may just want to float names to try and keep a lid on your the choice will be. Once he makes his choice, the race will be on to frame her image in the public, and if she is black, that will be a blank slate as there are not really many household names. Not allowing Team Trump to start focusing on a single body gives them time to game out how to introduce her and define her to the public.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Combine Biden D2 with Biden D3 and Rice becomes the ideal Biden VP — Condoleezza Rice that is.

    5. The Rev Kev

      I suspect that Lambert is trolling us with that article. Think about it. Vice-President Karen. Seriously?

      1. albrt

        Isn’t Karen basically the suburban soccer mom the democrat party has been trying to win over for decades while abandoning every other part of their former base?

        Why wouldn’t they pick Vice President Karen?

    6. JohnnySacks

      And with Barbara Lee being chair of the Progressive Black Caucus, only no vote on Iraq, and a defund the Pentagon advocate, anyone should know that isn’t happening either. Alas, another decade down the drain.

  4. L

    Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir here but I feel like the missing variable in both the questions about Biden’s appeal to Latinos and the Ross Douthat piece is the same thing, policy. Sanders had an aggressive outreach to Latinos based upon policies that they wanted and a similar outreach to younger African Americans along the same lines.

    Biden on the other hand chose symbolic outreach to core groups and policy-light approach which fits well with intersectionality and with people who are already firmly in the tent and afraid of it moving. (i.e. older committed Dems). It also goes badly when you have a bad history with a particular group (i.e. Latinos).

    The fact that policy is not part of a “winning strategy” is clearly by design and clearly something that elite columnists are paid not to care about.

    1. Big River Bandido

      In general, you’re probably right. However, a lot of what’s going on here is simply that Biden is an old-school Democrat politician who still believes you can whip up the black vote by speaking in a couple of black churches and spreading around some “chicken dinner money” before an election. His approach to Latinos is no less crass or bewildering.

      Chuck Rocha pointed out that part of the reason Sanders did so well among Latinos in Iowa and Nevada was that they spent 9 months in each place, organizing and working with people in the community. Most campaigns blow in a few days before the election, do no prep work, no local massaging, no favors…they don’t get to know who the local people are, they don’t listen to them, and they make it clear they don’t care about them at all, except for their money and their votes.

      At the local level, working people of all identities see right through that. It’s why they’ve been abandoning the Democrats over the last several cycles.

      1. flora

        That ties in with Sanders supporting down-ballot candidates. I’m reminded that Howard Dean built a 50 state strategy that helped get Obama elected. The Dem estab then shut down the 50 state strategy and started ignoring down-ballot races in the states. Hills didn’t even campaign in critical states during the 2016 general. And now the Dem estab is criticizing Sanders for caring about state races and down-ballot candidates? OK. Dear Dem estab, if you lose again don’t blame the Electoral College.

        1. Pat

          “They” don’t give a crap about down ticket races. Sanders could go and campaign for them all he wants if only he handed them his list and sent begging emails to it hourly. All so that all the “theys” who get a piece of the campaign largesse get their significant cut of the imagined millions Sanders giving them what they want would bring.

          They are delusional. One he isn’t going to do it, and two those donors aren’t going to give a Biden campaign a plug nickel. And in a logical world every time someone brings up Sanders not doing enough, the next question would be “Could you please state for the record exactly what enough is, and how has Sanders done less than say Buttigieg or Klobuchar?”

  5. Carolinian

    Two key indicators — the positivity rate and average number of daily hospitalizations — have continued to remain relatively steady, while average daily deaths have declined

    Seems to be true in my state. Perhaps the hotter weather makes the virus less deadly.

    1. R. S.

      In Florida, there are statistics showing that those getting sick right now are younger. Though young people can have severe infections, a larger percent of them relative to the elderly will have mild infections.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        wasp stung my finger and it got infected…so i just had a facetime visit with our doctor out there in the garden.
        he said the same thing…it’s young people getting it, and they’ll mostly be fine..but woe to them who bring it home!
        I had already begun preparing the way to re-institute the lockdown for us, and now I can say “Dr. Dave said so!”.
        He’s in Frederickburg, Tx…and said they’ve had lots of tourists up from San Antone ragging on the local young people waiting tables for wearing masks…two weeks go by, and his office is flooded with 20-30 year olds.
        This is far from over.

        1. RWood

          “This is far from over.”
          in second half of
          Letters and Politics

          1st half
          Cat Brooks, John Nichols, Mitch Jeserich


          Cat Brooks,
          Maureen Ferran (Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Viral Researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology) and Mitch Jeserich

          1. Arizona Slim

            Speaking of young people falling ill, Arizona’s mid-May reopening meant that college town bars and restaurants were back in business. Just in time for Graduation Weekend.

            Note the crowded bar photo in this Tucson city council member’s weekly newsletter:


            The bar is close to Arizona State University in Tempe. I heard that Tucson’s eating and drinking establishments were just as crowded.

            Me? I stayed home at the Arizona Slim Ranch. Did the same thing during Memorial Day weekend.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              I just heard a horror story about a college kid at one of the public universities in AZ who was seriously symptomatic (history of an immune disorder, almost died when he was 12, now 20) with high temp, struggling to breathe, whole nine yards.

              He went to student health. They tested him and told him it would be 8 days before the results would be back and to stay home (apartment with 3 roommates) and seek help if he turned blue.

              When he reported this to his mom (in another state), she told him to go to Urgent Care. The one student health directed him to had a long line out the door of people waiting to be tested and somehow they didn’t understand he already had a test and wanted to see a doctor. So he went to the back of the line and again it took his mom to tell him to go back to the front and tell them he needed to see someone (in his words, the nurse was a “bitch” so he was very resistant).

              Then he learned to actually be seen he needed to go to a different Urgent Care.

              So finally he saw a doctor, who told him he definitely has Covid (his blood ox was in the 80s) and she prescribed Zicam which due to his immune issues he couldn’t take so they gave him something else and told him to go home, drink lots of liquids, and stay in bed.

              The next day his temp started coming down and he was feeling better.

              The horror? In all of these contacts with the health system he was never once asked the contact info for his roommates or told to tell them to get tested.

              And their lease is up at the end of the month so they will all be moving (don’t know the details), adding to the potential for spread.

              These kids don’t have a clue. There used to be something called in loco parentis when I was young and going away to camp, college, etc. Terrifying that so many of them seem to be effectively on their own.

    2. richard

      I was looking at the NBER report, and had a similar thought about climate. It seems that the virus was deadlier in the NE, though they seemed to get it under control, last time I looked anyway. The West Coast got a less deadly strain but could never get our curve to flatten. The death rate in WA is definitely higher than California, sort of a midpoint actually between NE and cali.
      Sunny and dry climates have long been recognized as one of the best natural cures for respiratory issues. It makes sense that covid would do less damage there.
      just my 2 cents

      1. John k

        People in sunny states less likely to be low in vit d, so maybe better outcomes/ reduced death rate.
        I wish they would test for at least d, zinc and selenium when admitting COVID patients.

        1. Greg Plotnikoff

          Amen. Apparently there is no research on resilience factors like vitamin D taking place anywhere in the United States. CDC, what does your NHANES data show? Oh, the people at highest risk for COVID19 severity are the same people at highest risk for severe vitamin D deficiency?
          How interesting…no hypothesiss to test here?

          1. Yves Smith

            How do you test this?

            First, insurers stopped paying for Vitamin D tests a few years ago unless you have one of a very short list of medical conditions and most people don’t have them. And that’s before getting to the fact that a lot of people don’t have a doctor or get bloodwork regularly (IMHO that is the big reason to have an annual physical). So pray tell what baseline we have here re data. Basically it’s the more affluent which will have adequate data, so you have a skewed sample.

            Second, while I agree with the plausibility of the theory, correlation is not causation. Older people don’t get out in the sun much compared to younger people. So this could significantly be a spurious correlation based on age and general health (sicker people will also tend to be housebound).

    3. albrt

      In Arizona, my impression is that the lower death rate is almost entirely due to the virus spreading outside nursing homes. I am not a scientist but I have been following the local statistics pretty closely and this seems obvious.

      Until a couple of weeks ago, more than 70% of Maricopa County deaths were nursing home residents. The toll in nursing homes is still horrific, but the number of tested cases outside nursing homes has gone way up.

      Also remember that Arizona is still only reporting “confirmed” (meaning tested) cases, in a state where it takes 3 or 4 days to get a test (if you can get one at all) and then 7-10 days to get a result.

  6. Carolinian

    Rather than Medicare for All and taxing plutocrats, the rallying cry is racial justice and defunding the police.

    Mission accomplished, as the saying goes. Whether it will get Biden elected remains to be seen.

    1. Billy

      Must be fate, Jimi Hendrix on the radio just as I read the Biden dark matter article.

      Hey Joe, where you going with that gun to your head?
      Hey Joe, where you going with that gun to your head?
      I’m gonna shoot my candidacy, I botched her messin round with another’s plan

      Hey Joe, I heard you shot your candidacy down
      Yes I did I shot her, I went and put her in the ground

      Hey Joe, where you gonna run now?
      I’m heading to the SPCA where I can finally be free
      I’m heading non-profit way, no donor’s about to put a leash around me

  7. a different chris

    Calling attention to this poorly-written (recommending just skip the story itself) PG story for the irony of the comment section:


    The mouth-breathing conservative supporters must be really bad in this one because many of the comments are redacted, but even then you can get a gist from the responses. Anyway, the supporters main thrust, over and over again is, paraphrasing, “those liberal (meaning left I guess) pansy professors! Academia can’t stand opposing views! They keep to their own little leftist college enclaves. Here is a real man who would them what’s what and they can’t stand that!”.

    Grenell, of course, went to you guessed it, Harvaaard.

  8. Milton

    The University of Richmond’s Mapping Inequality Project—

    University researchers have georeferenced old HOLC maps (redlining maps), and have begun to digitize the location of redlined areas, the amount of redlined areas by city, and legal descriptions used to identify areas where people would be more or less deserving of receiving Federally-backed mortgages, based on race, ethnicity, and physical quality of a neighborhood.  Of note is the one example description from a redlined neighborhood in St Paul, MN: “Property values are very poor.  Very heavy racial encroachment throughout the entire district in prominent. The only redeeming feature is its accessibility to the downtown district.”  Today, this neighborhood is the site of two Interstates and a major US-Highway.

    Redlining in New Deal America project

  9. bayoustjohndavid

    Regarding the debate over Biden’s VP pick, I think a little numbers crunching on the John Bel Edwards re-election would undercut a lot of the argument for Stacey Abrams. I’m not 100% sure about this because I just did a quick comparison of turnout in the 2016 presidential election and 2019 gubernatorial election in Orleans (mostly black) and Jefferson (mostly white) Parishes, before looking at a few precints that I knew to be overwhelmingly black or white. It was amazing how much higher the turnout was in majority black precints (at least in New Orleans and its largest suburb). If black turnout is up nationwide, isn’t Abrams analogous to a mayors or governors who brag when their states or cities follow a national trend like increased employment or less crime? Seriously, I don’t think the numbers would show that Abrams did a much better job at turning out black vote in Ga. than Edwards did in La., but I only took a quick look.

  10. Milton

    The University of Richmond’s Mapping Inequality Project—

    University researchers have georeferenced old HOLC maps (redlining maps), and have begun to digitize the location of redlined areas, the amount of redlined areas by city, and legal descriptions used to identify areas where people would be more or less deserving of receiving Federally-backed mortgages, based on race, ethnicity, and physical quality of a neighborhood.  Of note is the one example description from a redlined neighborhood in St Paul, MN: “Property values are very poor.  Very heavy racial encroachment throughout the entire district in prominent. The only redeeming feature is its accessibility to the downtown district.”  Today, this neighborhood is the site of two Interstates and a major US-Highway.


    1. Billy

      So, if the neighborhood still exists, if the same people who lived there then, still live there, are you proposing that all these qualified residents of the neighborhood, so described get reparations? Or, do only blacks get them? Lots of poor Slovenians and Poles lived in these neighborhoods. Does the one drop rule take affect?
      What about residents of areas like San Francisco’s Western Addition? Once a slum, the original black owners are sitting on a Hipster goldmine. Do they pay into the reparations fund, or, are they banned from participating?

  11. L

    Some Democrats have begun pointing the finger at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), saying he’s been consumed with down-ballot elections at the expense of promoting Biden’s bid for the White House…. While they concede Sanders has done more to help Biden than he did in the 2016 race for then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, they still say Sanders needs to use his influence with his supporters to ensure they turn out and donate to Biden’s campaign…

    Translation: “Back off McGrath and Engell, let AOC go, and give us money.”

    In all seriousness, this is not the sound of a serious campaign. If Bden’s team was actually serious about winning, and wasn’t just a wagonload of profiteering consultants who don’t care about helping people, then they would stop the finger wagging and start actually asking what voters want. As it is, it feels like they are laying the groundwork to blame Sanders for everything and preparing for their fundraising cycle till 2024.

    1. km

      Translation: Nothing that Sanders could do, and I mean nothing, will satisfy Team D stalwarts.

      Sanders could offer himself as Joe Biden’s slave for life with collar and leash and a tag engraved with “Property of Biden” on it, and Team D loyalists would kvetch that he didn’t get a tattoo on his forehead to match.

      1. RMO

        In the previous primary and the following election I recall the same people criticizing him for drawing money AWAY from down ballot elections – unlike the generous Hillary campaign who were sending money to the down ballot campaigns. Then we later found out they had an arrangement with those down ballot campaigns to send the money received from Clinton’s campaign right back to the Clinton campaign.

        As km said: “Translation: Nothing that Sanders could do, and I mean nothing, will satisfy Team D stalwarts.”

    2. integer

      Lol. They truly believe that policy doesn’t matter (not that Biden is at all trustworthy on policy) and that all that is needed for Sanders supporters to enthusiastically support Biden is for Sanders to say the word. The idea that this would result in Sanders supporters flooding the coffers of the Biden campaign with donations is delusional. I’ve seen hundreds of comments and tweets to the effect of “I’m pissed I donated to Sanders because he dropped out and endorsed Biden” and “I’ve been a D all my life but there’s no way in hell I’m voting for Biden” over the last couple of months, and it;s not like I’ve been looking for them. I can only surmise that the people quoted in the article are mirroring the traits of D establishment supporters – who will enthusiastically vote for, and venomously denounce any criticism of, whichever terrible candidate the D establishment chooses to win the primary – onto Sanders supporters. The idea that Sanders’ base supported Sanders because of policy is completely lost on them. Cue the Upton Sinclair quote I guess.

      As an aside, I visited Neera Tanden’s Twitter feed yesterday, which is something I do from time to time when I’m feeling particularly resilient, and hilariously the outrage du jour was that Maggie Haberman said Biden was a flawed candidate and is running a flawed campaign, which is obviously true. The replies to Tanden’s tweet are crazy: Haberman is a Trump sycophant, righteous proclamations of cancelling NYT subscriptions, one even appears to suggest that Haberman was supporting Trump because she wanted to have sex with him lol. These people are so sensitive to even the slightest criticism of team D, having grown as accustomed to the liberal media establishment providing them with a safe space in which their views are presented as the only rational way to look at things as a fish is to water. FWIW, here are some titles of recent Haberman articles:

      With Tweets, Videos and Rhetoric, Trump Pushes Anew to Divide Americans by Race

      Trump Family Asks Court to Stop Publication of Tell-All by President’s Niece

      Biden Proves an Elusive Target, Adding to Trump’s Frustration

      IMO Neera-Tanden-liberals are more dangerous than Trump supporters by a long shot.

  12. scarn

    Smart article from those Good Ol Boyz. Their most recent podcast is 15 minutes of ridiculing Chuck Wendig, who just completely deserves it. Great find, will listen to more.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yeah, that single post isn’t a day old as I write this. Good Ol Boyz seems like one to watch, being so strong out of the gate.

  13. NoOneInParticular

    Re “#COVID19

    At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data.”

    You might want to fix the typo – Johns, not John.

  14. Keith

    Interesting thing about people saving. Make sense due to an unpredictable outlook, aside from it being bad. More virus, bad economy or both. Throw in the murder hornets, and an alien invasion or two, what’s a person to do. Oh, I almost forgot the POTUS race, and if there are mail in ballots, the drama surrounding taking days to get results, then the lawsuits and smarting by both sides, and the potential for rioting if Trump were to win, plus any new Putin theories.

    I am quite blessed that my situation is stable, and I took a different approach. I am working towards increasing my supplies, so if/when things get worse, I will be able to hunkered down and weather any supply disruptions. I suspect it will be a long winter, this year, and as GOT taught us, Winter is Coming (sorry, had to be cheesy as I am still working through the series, so no spoilers, please!).

  15. Big River Bandido

    On the Kentucky Democrat Senate Primary:

    Based on polling, Kentuckians strongly prefer Booker to McGrath. And yet, when you combine the suppression effects of the pandemic with the historic types of vote suppression Democrats routinely use — with great success — against insurgent reform candidates (massive poll closings, mailed ballot snafus, long lines, poor staffing), McGrath is likely to prevail.

    So even though everybody with any conscience and class hates McGrath, I predict she’ll win on structural factors alone.

    1. Darthbobber

      Though the Kentucky situation is a bit anomalous. Booker draws support from leftists, but has also emerged as the favorite of a lot of establishment Kentucky democrats. (so I guess McGrath can be credited with uniting those groups.)

  16. Pelham

    Re Trump in Tulsa: I watched a bit of it on Fox, and learned later that their cameras were careful not to reveal the paucity of audience members.

    However, more striking was just how animated and effective Trump was. You’d never know from the performance that he was disappointed by the turnout, and he was definitely at the peak of his zany game.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > he was definitely at the peak of his zany game.

      Since somebody said it, here’s a riff from the speech. Leaving aside issues of truth or falsity:

      I said, “General, I’ve got myself a problem, General.” Because I’m wearing leather bottom shoes which is good if you’re walking on flat surfaces. It’s not good for ramps and if I fall down, look at all those press back there, look at them. This was a steel ramp, you all saw it because everybody saw it. This was a steel ramp. It had no handrail, it was like an ice skating rink, and I said, “General, I have a problem,” and he didn’t understand that at first. I said, “There’s no way.” He understood, I just saluted almost 600 times. I just made a big speech. I sat for other speeches. I’m being baked. I’m being baked like a cake. I said, “General, there’s no way I can make it down that ramp without falling on my ass, General. I have no railing.”

      So I end up saying, “Okay, General, let’s go. I will only grab you if I need you.” That’s not a good story. Falling would be a disaster. It turned out to be worse than anything, I would have been better off if I fell and slid down the damn ramp. Right? So what happens is I start the journey, inch by inch, right? I was really bent over too. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like this picture. This picture I’m sure will be an ad by the fakers. So I was bent over, right? Bent over like this. Then we finally reached almost the end and the fake news, the most dishonest human beings, they cut it off. You know why? Because when I was ten feet short, I said, “General, I’m sorry,” and I ran down the rest, right? I looked very handsome. That was the only good.

      This is brilliantly comedic Borscht Belt riffing. And obviously, Trump hasn’t lost his mind; I’d like to see Biden riff in a similar fashion. (Of course, this doesn’t mean that I love Trump, or that he’s not a [glassbowl]). But he hasn’t lost his mind, isn’t senile, etc., etc. Which implies that — and this may shock you — the press isn’t really reporting. And now I have to find a damned transcript and read it. Maybe there’s something newsworthy in it, idk.

      “I’m being baked. I’m being baked like a cake.” !!!!!!!

      1. Darthbobber

        But two full hours of rambling from one to another of these monologues? We’re getting to Castro-length speeches. Most comedians keep their routines a tad shorter.

  17. Mark K

    “Translation: ‘If I tell you how to vote, they showed me the Zapruder film.’”

    Lambert, could you explain the analogy to the Kennedy assassination? I’m not getting it.

    1. Pelham

      I think he means that if a pol pushes for too much, he’ll be sidelined one way or another. Anyway, that’s my takeaway. And Bob Dylan’s, too.

  18. Hepativore

    Because Biden’s apparent position is that he would fundamentally change nothing, and regardless of whom we get in office in 2020 our foreign policy is going to be the same. I know that Kyle Kulinski and other leftist commentators are changing their minds about #neverBiden because of the idea of harm reduction. However, considering Biden’s record on racial issues, gaffes, and the fact that he is a diehard neoliberal, I would not be surprised if Biden would have also ordered in the military to quell protesters like Trump tried to do.

    The only difference is that the neoliberal media outrage machine would give such a measure a “thumb’s up” because it would be Biden doing it instead of Trump. The point is that I do not see a compelling reason why voting for Biden would be reducing harm at all, as it would prolong the agony with incumbency in 2024 while you could at least get rid of the Trump part of the equation for sure, by then.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      It’s too bad Biden’s appearance with Charlamagne Tha God happened before George Floyd was murdered. I can’t imagine anyone else who’d be willing to ask Biden how he would handle Black Lives Matter protesters getting close enough to ask now.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      “…The point is that I do not see a compelling reason why voting for Biden would be reducing harm at all…”

      is still where I’m at.
      40 plus year career of enabling the worst aspects of our civilisation, foreign and domestic.
      and if he wins against trump, it will effectively silence the lefty opposition for decades more.
      Like that poll a few weeks ago, I’m more and more in the “burn it all down and start over” crowd.
      I reckon trump and biden have an equal chance of hastening that, with trump doing so with less competence.
      So, Green, it is…if i even bother to vote, at all.

      1. Pat

        I have no belief, none, that we would see anything more than some empty display of seeming competence on the part of a President Biden on either of the challenges of the last months. Biden’s clear history of both racism and adherence to neoliberal market norms mean the same pointless pandering we saw from the Democratic Congress and Cuomo. There would be more media admiration based on bubble thinking but little else would change except they would laugh off Biden’s gaffes rather than go all hair on fire.

        In a sensible world NEITHER Trump or Biden would get anything but historic third party vote levels and the third parties would become the major parties this November. I know I won’t waste my vote on either.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I see the fundamental pitch that the Democrats are making as “Put The Professionals Back in Charge”™. For example, we’re not really voting for Biden (the hood ornament) but the Obama Alumni Administration (the vehicle).

          And they can’t see what putting the professionals back in charge might be, for many voters, problematic.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > harm reduction

      I’m with Black Agenda Report that Democrats are the more effective evil.

      For example, the CARES Act (Republican administration, Democrat Congress) is far superior to anything Obama offered in the Crash (Democrat adminisration, Democrat Congress). So, if harm reduction is your goal…

  19. D. Fuller

    “Biden still has a Hispanic voter problem, but does it matter?”

    A violation of Betteridge’s Law?

    Since 1986 when Reagan signed immigration reform, headlines have trumpeted the “demographic shift” that Democrats have firmly believed would give them a permanent majority in America. 34 years later and that still has not happened.


    1. Many Hispanics are religious conservatives.
    2. The Democratic Party has changed from working class to Wall Street class; disenfranchisement of Hispanic investment in Democratic Party.

    The current Democratic leadership simply does not represent the interests of many Hispanic voters. This leads to loss of Hispanic support and a transferrence to Republicans (as the only other viable party).

    The fantasy of Hispanic voters tipping the balance to produce a permanent majority of Democratic control of State and Federal governments has always been and will continue to be just that…

    A fantasy.

    Both parties target swing voters who comprise 10-15% of the voting public, typically. Even a loss of 1% support in a voting bloc translates into a major effect in outcome of elections.

    Given that a 1% loss in a voting bloc does not affect 100% of the voters, instead effecting the swing vote of 10-15% (a much smaller number to effect).

    1. Hepativore

      As it is, I am rather surprised that the Republican Party has not done more to court the social conservatism and religiosity of the black and hispanic demographics. While both of these groups have been traditionally wary of the Republicans, the Democratic Party does not have much to offer them at this point since now the Democrats only care about the Karen and Martha’s Vineyard vote.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        , I am rather surprised that the Republican Party has not done more to court the social conservatism and religiosity of the black and hispanic demographics

        The short answer is you’ve answered your own question.

        The long answer is the GOP tries in their own haphazard way. The Jeb! wing of the party seemed to think they could pull this off with the right to life stuff and lip service to “immigration reform” or wrapping draconian policies in the usual friendly gibberish. One problem is quality of life still matters, and the GOP uses the help offered through religious outfits (mega churches do things like offer free child care) to “improve” the quality of life for whites. In the long run, they would have to expand this. Like my usual criticism of the Karens of Team Blue crossing the street if there is a risk of seeing a “person of color” (I still can’t believe this flies), the Republicans who would need to do this are averse to people who may not belong to the Southern side in a Civil War reenactment.

    2. neo-realist

      3. Expounding on religious conservatism, many Latinos are Catholics who hate abortion.

      Both parties are Wall Street, but the republicans do a better job of stirring up working class hate of wall street democrats as a substitute for policies that help the working class.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      IMHO it’s simpler than that.

      Latinos are in the multigenerational process of becoming ‘white’, by working their way up the economic ladder and acquiring modest property just as their fellow ‘Latins’ (Italians), Slavs and Irish did in earlier generations. Progress is a lot slower and less sure today of course than it was in the 1950s, but there’s still plenty of work needs doing.

      And sorry to stereotype, but I will anyway. As a group, Latinos:
      – aren’t overinflated with self esteem (or self pity) and resentment
      – reliably perform ‘essential work’ other groups disdain
      – families support each other in hard times and good
      – know to put money aside, which fuels small business, property ownership and the essentially conservative values that come with that.
      Those higher up the ladder also prioritize formal education which is the passport to bourgeois life and the 20% technocracy (as Asian immigrants knew from the start).

      The above are the standard building blocks of the American Dream, and while being sucked dry by the rentier classes, that dream doesn’t die easily.

      Pursuing that dream gives many Latinos a great deal in common with the white tradesmen who form the core of Trump’s base (and whose children are intermarrying with them a *lot* more than those of the liberal 20% that purports to represent their interests).

  20. TonyinSoCAL

    Nice to know that COVID conspiracy theorists aren’t the only people with their heads up their tushy. Enter the LA County Health “experts” who were way behind the curve in the beginning and have continuously pushed out misleading and intellectually dishonest information.

    Two key indicators — the positivity rate and average number of daily hospitalizations — have continued to remain relatively steady, while average daily deaths have declined, L.A. officials said.”

    Do our “experts” not understand that deaths and hospitalizations are lagging indicators and not leading indicators? Death and hospitalizations are only a reflection of where we were at 2-4 weeks ago, not where we are at today.

    As to the positiveity rate being “steady,” it is a lie. Our average positive test result rate in LA county was 5.8% 10 days ago, it is now 8.4%, above even the 8% average for the entire pandemic. The positive test result rate is not steady. We are having more cases at a faster pace (source). Period.

    Whether that leads to increased hospitalizations and deaths remains to be seen in the weeks ahead. With “experts” and “officials” and “leaders” like these. . .

    1. RMO

      I live in BC where we’ve been ranging from zero to 20 new cases per day of late (2835 total, 170 deaths, population 5.1 million) and I’m still wary to the point of being terrified of catching it. Mask and gloves whenever I’m in a building shopping, washing everything that comes in the house that can’t just sit for a multi day decontamination period, stripping off my “outside clothes” in the garage and fully showering whenever I come back home. Getting close to later years Howard Hughes behavior… though I don’t have that kind of money and instead of Ice Station Zebra I’ve been watching WKRP In Cincinnati over and over again.

      Even if we manage a full month with zero new cases I think I’m still going to be wary until there’s a vaccine or a highly effective treatment. Going out to eat in a restaurant or drink in a bar seems at least highly questionable to me, even here. In a place which has had a massively worse toll from the pandemic so far it just strikes me as flat out insane.

      1. wilroncanada

        RMO–in BC also
        My little part of BC is Vancouver Island, pop about 850,000, total deaths 5. Dr Bonnie Henry, the Medical Health Officer, announced the first case on VI in more than 6 weeks, in yesterday’s report. It was disappointing, but she had been warning all along that we were not going to escape completely, and to maintain vigilance. Her mantra, repeated at every report (now down to about 4 days-a-week) “Be kind. Be calm. Be safe,” has become a watchword for the province. V. I. has not had a single case in a care facility, though the Island population leans heavily to seniors.
        Overall, however, the majority of the deaths–to many in total–in BC has been 1. Long-term care; 2. agriculture and agri-food facilities, including farms; 3. prisons.

        1. Roland

          I now live in BC’s Northern Health Region. We’ve been lucky–currently there are no known active cases here. But it’s only luck. Very few people wear masks, and after mid-April everybody started backsliding on the quarantine. I fear that if the virus were re-introduced, it would spread rapidly.

      2. eg

        I live in the Golden Horseshoe (Southern Ontario at the western end of Lake Ontario) and I will be taking significant precautions and avoiding large group settings (especially indoors) until treatment options become much more sophisticated and effective, or until there is a vaccine.

        1. RMO

          Vancouver Island is quite a success story really. Victoria and the area around it has a fair size urban population and it includes a lot of seniors. Vancouver itself has done quite well given that we’re right next to the US border and are a major port trading with China. Dr. Henry I think has been key in how well we’ve done. Aside from how difficult all the work since a pandemic was declared must be I think it must have taken a lot of courage to start taking measures early on as she did. You know that there must have been a lot of push back from others in government at that stage.

          Overall I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with how my fellow citizens and the provincial and federal government here have been responding to the pandemic.

          Strange to think that just a short time ago – March 11th – I was cancelling the rail trip I had booked to see friends in San Fransisco… and thinking I might be being over cautious. Didn’t take long for that decision to be proven to be the correct one.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > As to the positiveity rate being “steady,” it is a lie. Our average positive test result rate in LA county was 5.8% 10 days ago, it is now 8.4%,


  21. The Rev Kev

    “FDA warns against 9 hand sanitizers after dangerous chemical discovered’

    Do they ever use bleach in those hand sanitizers? We know a very young kid that was having painful rashes on his hands to the point that he was crying in pain. And it was worked out that the source of this was the hand sanitizers that the school used in the classrooms and in fact other kids in his class had the same problem too. Meanwhile the teacher could care less.

    1. John A

      The hand sanitisers in Sweden are based on alcohol. Several vodka distilleries have ‘magnanimously and loudly’ proclaimed they have switched some production to make the alcohol suitable for hand sanitiser.
      As a sidebar, alcohol is a very touchy subject in Sweden, a bit like overt sexual scenes in the anglosaxon world. Swedish TV viewers could uncomplainingly watch a couple having full on sex in the nude for however long they take, but if they afterwards poured themselves a whisky, the TV switchboard would be jammed with outraged callers complaining about promoting alcohol.

      1. YetAnotherChris

        In my limited experience, Sweden’s youth are continually hectored by their elders that they can’t handle their liquor. And then they go out and prove it.

  22. Daryl

    > “Texas Children’s Hospital admitting adult patients to free up hospital beds in Houston”

    This is fine, according to Greg Abbott. There are still beds available throughout the state, so no problems here.

    Texas is going to put NYC’s covid experience to shame two weeks from now, and it was entirely avoidable and completely obvious.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Texas is going to put NYC’s covid experience to shame two weeks from now, and it was entirely avoidable and completely obvious.

      New York’s curve had a steeper slope, but yes. And I bet the rich have already left for Aspen or the Caribbean, and the essential worker will be left to take the hit.

  23. occasional anonymous

    “Wokeness Defined” [Good Ol Boyz Podcast].

    For all they talk about it, the woke don’t actually understand anything about colonialism, because they refuse to engage with political economy and class. All the stuff they don’t like were layered on top of a foundation of wealth extraction. You can’t actually change anything if you just try and address the symptoms.

  24. Wellstone's Ghost

    Regarding Joe Biden’s “I’m Tough” tweet about Venezuela
    Biden/Abrams 2020
    Elliott Abrams that is.

  25. Pat

    NYC has been partially reopened less than two weeks and if we do not see a large uptick in Covid cases I will be shocked. I did travel during the shut down. NOW it scares me. And the number of people I see either on public transportation or in the grocery store inadequately or completely unmasked is daunting. Street dining should only have started yesterday, but I’ve been seeing it both officially and unofficially since late last week. Sure some places are holding the line, but they are few and far between.

Comments are closed.